• Simone Barton

LOUDER FEATURES: Welcome to 'AltTok'

During lockdown something I never expected to happen happened... I downloaded TikTok. What started off as curiosity steadily became an addiction, as I now often find myself in a spiral of videos for what feels like minutes, but turns out to be hours. Before I succumbed to its influence, I thought TikTok was just a cringe app full of teens and it would die down soon like it's predecessor Musical.ly. I was very wrong.

After spending way more time than I'm willing to admit endlessly scrolling,  I realised  what made TikTok so addictive is it's algorithm. The posts that appear on the 'For You' page get eerily specific; so, naturally, mine is full of diverse 'alternative' people, from goths to punks. Being immersed into these subcultures made me aware of dozens of new artists and songs, even ones I never thought I'd like, such as 100 Gecs. It's easy to get stuck in a rut with music and stick to the bands you know and love, so a sound-focused app like TikTok is a great way to get out of your comfort zone by scrolling through your feed.

Using social media to share music is, of course, nothing new. Similar to how scene and emo kids of the early 2000s would add their favourite track onto their Myspace page, music can be used on TikTok to represent a person. Mashups of songs act as a mini playlists, such as this post by user @yasminesummanx of classic 2010 emo songs.

These playlists can then in turn to attract other people within the community, and help the algorithm to suggest similar sounds for you.

Adding these sounds to a TikTok is a useful tool for sharing music and can help small artists gain more exposure. An example of this is Doja Cat, a female rap artist who's had several songs featured in viral trends which has since helped her gain a large fanbase. Alternative music is also used in similar trends, such as Simple Plan’s ‘I’m Just a Kid’, which has brought them attention from a younger audience.

By TikTok user @caleb.rillos

Some users also make videos recommending bands based on different criteria, e.g. “POC pop-punk bands”, or “metal bands with female vocalists”. These videos help amplify musicians that aren’t often seen, which has become a topic that people are more aware of particularly in the alt scene. Personally, I have found some amazing bands through this trend alone, such as Ginjer and Meet Me at the Alter, and look forward to seeing who I find next. 

See where TikTok could take you and what you might discover- start your journey here: https://www.tiktok.com/en/